3 ways divorce can affect you financially in Singapore

3 ways divorce can affect you financially in Singapore

The break up of a marriage is one of the suckiest things that can happen to you. Even if you're secretly glad to finally be rid of that lowlife once and for all, when faced with the prospects of moving back in with your parents or making hefty maintenance payments, life is really bleak.

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but before going through with a divorce it's best to be mentally prepared for some of the ways in which the end of your marriage can have an impact on your finances.

If you're under 35 and have no kid, say goodbye to your HDB flat

For many Singaporeans, their HDB flat is their biggest asset, and the division of your flat is going to be one of the first things that hurts the most when your divorce is finalised. In Singapore, it's often not just a simple matter of deciding who gets to keep the flat.

Once you're no longer married, you do not satisfy HDB's requirements for owning a flat. In order to be allowed to retain the flat, not only do you have to be Singaporean and over 35, but your flat must also have been a resale flat purchased on the open market without the CPF Housing Grant for Family, otherwise you must have satisfied the 5 year minimum occupation period. This means you won't get to keep the flat even if you paid for the whole thing on your own.

If your ex-spouse is older, they may be able to keep it; otherwise, you'll have to sell the flat and distribute the sale proceeds according to what the judge has decided.

On the other hand, if you do have a kid, the person who gets custody is going to be allowed to keep the flat.

Even if you paid for your home without your spouse's help, they might still get a cut

If you're one of the lucky few who already paid for a beautiful condominium unit or inherited property from your parents before getting married, be very careful.

If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can't agree on how to divide up your assets, you're basically giving the judges free rein to do so on your behalf. And sometimes, and especially in the case where you don't have much cash savings, they will get you to sell your matrimonial home and then divide up the sales proceeds between you.

This really, really sucks, because property that's solely in your name can also be considered "matrimonial property",if you're not careful. If your spouse and kids, if any, lived in that property under ordinary circumstances, it's fair game for the judges, even if it was a beautiful dwelling passed down by your late grandparents to you and only you.

House husbands can forget about getting maintenance from their wives

If you're a man hoping to hook a beautiful heiress, don't be too hopeful, because in Singapore maintenance tends to be thought of as the domain of women. In Singapore, just because your ex-wife earns more than you doesn't mean you'll automatically be immune from having to pay her maintenance.

On the other hand, just because a man is great at folding diapers while his wife excels in the boardroom doesn't mean he's entitled to maintenance. So far, judges in Singapore have been reluctant to pay house husbands their dues, although they might award you a larger proportion of the sale proceeds of your flat. Yes, this applies even if the sole reason you quit your job was to look after the kids, or if you're unable to work because of an illness or injury.

At the moment, it looks like being a house husband is not going to pay off, unless you manage to stay in your marriage in the long run.

This article first appeared in MoneySmart.

MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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